‘Chitrakoot—The Enchanted Forest’ was designer Shalini James’ ode to the eponymous forest, the site of many a story in Indian mythology, at the Lotus Make-Up India Fashion Week Autumn-Winter 2019 show held in Delhi on March 13. The foliage of the imaginary forest came to life through the collection’s 12 ensembles.
Shalini was chosen by textile company Liva, along with three other designers—Rina Dhaka, Sahil Kochar and Samant Chauhan, to be part of the opening show titled the ‘Liva Eco Greenheart’.
For the collection, Shalini worked with LivaEco, a sustainable fabric from Liva made from wood sourced from FSC certified forests. The designer picked the theme —the forest — as a nod to the origin of the fabric. She had barely a month to work on the collection but she says, sounding satisfied after the show, “It looked good on the ramp, and the feedback too has been good. There were so many variables, but the process was beautiful.”
Shalini spent a couple of weeks in Jaipur, getting the fabric dyed and printed—an experience which she enjoyed, especially the randomness of it. It was resist dyed and bagru printed. “So much of nature comes into it—if it’s cloudy the colour changes, sunny then different. But that too is the point of sustainability, rather than stick to the Pantone sheet. Vagaries should be imbibed into the design process, if one wants uniformity then why not go with mill made fabric. The variation, from the palette, gave the fabric beauty.”
The printing was done at a unit, which has experience in printing and dyeing, as the work demanded expertise. This collection is reminiscent of Shalini’s fashion week debut collection (AIFW SS2016) —Indian By Choice—which made an impact.
The silhouette for the collection is a melding of Indian, Western and Indo-Western —jacket, pants, tunic, anarkali, angarkha and saris— in peacock blue, berry red, indigo, black and bark brown. “Mixed prints, attached fabric… the collection is a collage of prints—I have managed to create intensity with it despite being limited by the little control I had over the dyeing process.”